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Federal Work-Study Frequently-Asked Questions

What is FWS?

Federal Work-Study is a program that partially funds jobs for students with financial need. Awards are based on need as determined by the FAFSA to help pay for college expenses.

How is FWS awarded?

FWS is based on the FAFSA. If you have questions about your eligibility to receive FWS please contact the Financial Aid Office at 781-239-2600 or

Can FWS be deducted from the tuition bill?

No. FWS is earned as you work. It is paid to you in the form of a paycheck, not deducted from your bill.

How much will students be paid an hour?

All on-campus positions start at $9.00 an hour. If you are returning to the same position, you may receive a pay increase each semester.

How many hours per week can I work to earn work-study?

Student employees are limited to working 15 hours per week between all on-campus jobs when classes are in session. During scheduled breaks, occasional exceptions may be made only with the permission of the Financial Aid Office.

Can I skip class and work extra hours? I need some extra money this month.

No. You may not work during your regularly scheduled class time. The work-study award is intended to provide income to enable you to get an education. Missing class would defeat the main purpose of you attending MassBay.

How do I get paid once I have a work-study job?

You will complete a timesheet each pay-period with your employer. The supervisor will then approve the hours worked and submit the timesheet to the Financial Aid Office and you will receive a paycheck (or have your pay directly deposited to your bank account) from MassBay every other week.

Are the jobs on campus or off- campus?

Both. Jobs are available on- campus and off- campus, but most are on- campus.

My work-study award is for $2,000, what does that mean?

Under the work-study program, you may then earn up to a total of $2,000 during fall, winter and spring terms combined. Once you have earned the full $2,000 you must stop working, or the department that hired you must pay you out of their department budget. If you have earned the full $2,000 please check with your supervisor before continuing to work, to see if they have funds available in their department budget to continue to pay you, if they do not you must stop working.

What if a student earns all his/her FWS award before the award year is over? Can it be increased?

It may be possible to increase the FWS allotment if funds are available and if the student still has remaining eligibility. The college does receive a very limited pool of funds from the Federal Government, and does attempt to make as many opportunities available to as many students as possible, so the total pool of funds may already be committed to other students. Contact Financial Aid Office to find out if your award can be increased.

What happens if I do not want to earn my work-study award of $2,000 or only earn a portion of it?

The work-study award must be earned within the award period it was offered. It cannot be used in future award periods or for a different academic year. If you are not planning to earn the full award that was offered to you, please let the Financial Aid Office know, so the unused funds can go back in to the pool.

Can I work more than one work-study job?

Yes, but you must monitor your total earnings from both positions to ensure that you do not exceed your work-study award amount. Students must not exceed a 15-hour work week when utilizing their work-study awards.

Are on-campus employers willing to be flexible around my school schedule?

It depends on the employer. There are some on-campus departments that are looking to hire FWS students to work anytime. They are usually very flexible. Other department’s on-campus may have a specific schedule they need to fill.

Is FWS taxable income?

Yes. If a student earns enough income to file a tax return, it must be included as taxable income for federal and state purposes.

Do students have to report FWS earnings on the FAFSA?

Yes. Students must report FWS earnings on the FAFSA. You will be asked to report work-study earnings in the Additional Financial Information section of your FAFSA. This allows your work-study earnings to be excluded when determining your financial need. This is a major benefit of having a FWS job!

Do FWS earnings count against the student to get aid for next year?

No. FWS earnings do not count against the student for the following year's federal financial aid. Even though students report FWS as part of their total income on the FAFSA, there is another place on the FAFSA where FWS earnings are reported separately and the FAFSA formula does not count that against the student.

Is there a Federal Work-Study job for every eligible student?

Unfortunately, no. Students are placed in jobs on a first-come, first-served basis once eligibility has been determined. Federal Work-Study funds are awarded to each school by the government, not directly to each student. Once the funds granted to the school for this purpose are earned by students, the government does not award additional funds until the following year. When awards are distributed, the school does not know how many students will earn their full FWS award amount or how many hours they will work. However, it has been our experience that most students who are interested in working as Federal Work-Study students are placed in jobs within the first two months of the semester.

Am I paid to study?

No. Federal Work-Study jobs are real jobs with real responsibilities. You are paid to work. A few jobs may include time when you may read, but most do not.

Is there any loan responsibility tied to earning work-study?

No. Work-study is an opportunity for you to earn wages. It is a work award, not a loan.

Can I return to the same FWS job each year?

Yes. If you are eligible for Federal Work-Study and want to return to the same department, you may return, assuming that the department wants you back. You must apply for financial aid each year and you must get the appropriate paperwork from hiring department at the beginning of each year. You do not need new paperwork if you are continuing a job from fall to spring semester.